Sapundu is the sacrificial pole of the Dayak Ngaju people of Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. The sacrificial pole is usually carved into a human figure or an animal figure. The sapundu is an integral part of the Tiwah dead festival, where animals are tied to it to be sacrificed.
Sapundus are traditionally made of ironwood, although today a lighter more common wood are increasingly being used. It is usually about 1.5 - 3 meter height, and has a diameter of between 15-25 cm. Sapundus are carved into different figures e.g. a man or a woman, or sometimes of animals. A sapundu represent a figure that would escort the soul of the dead into the paradise during the tiwah. The type of figures represented by the sapundu is usually a figure that is deemed appropriate to accompany the deceased during their final journey into the paradise. For example, if the deceased was a female, a sacrificial post representing a man is usually prepared for her tiwah, and vice versa. Contemporary sapundu can be very creative. For example, there is a sapundu depicting a young woman in blue jeans and a sleeveless T-shirt wearing a Sony Walkman. Some sapundus contain English inscriptions, e.g. "Tiwah Party" or "God Save Our Soul". Notches inscribed onto the post are intended to serve as reminders to the souls of the animals, rice, and other goods donated by survivors to ensure the deceased's comfort in the afterlife.
The following are different kind of sapundu figures found in the Dayak villages along the Kahayan, Central Kalimantan:
Many sapundus are set in front of house courtyard, such as those found in the villages of Central Kalimantan. Some sapundus are kept in Belanga Museum, Palangkaraya, to simulate the tiwah festival; this sapundus are donated by the villagers and are purified accordingly following the traditional rite.
On the fifth day of the Tiwah festival, buffaloes, pigs or cows are tied to a sapundu to be sacrificed. One animal is tied onto one sapundu. The timing of the killing of the animal is adjusted with the intended length of the Tiwah ceremony; if only one buffalo is to be killed, usually the killing is done one day before the exhumation of the deceased. Multiple animals may require several days or it can be done all at once in one single day. The animal is tied onto the tiwah using a 10-20 meter tree root. A male animal should be tied to a female-gendered sapundu, vice versa. All villagers are allowed to kill the livestock by spearing on them. The blood of the sacrificed livestock will be used to purify various items for the Tiwah, e.g. the sandung bone ossuary. The meat will be give to those performing the killing of the livestock following a strict rule.